Report: Soviets viewed Bernie Sanders’ 1980s ‘sister-city’ program as useful propaganda tool

It’s well-known that Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), an openly declared “democratic socialist,” has something of an affinity for socialist and communist regimes around the globe that stood in contrast, if not even direct opposition, to the United States.

Now, as Sanders takes on the establishment-backed former Vice President Joe Biden for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, the mainstream media has finally decided to take a closer look at some of Sanders’ ties to America’s socialist rivals, such as the former Soviet Union.

One key finding from that effort was the discovery of documentary evidence strongly suggesting that Sanders, whether knowingly or not, was exploited and used by the Soviets for propaganda purposes to try and undermine and weaken the U.S. during the latter years of the Cold War, Fox News reported.

Sister-city propaganda

The New York Times recently reviewed a trove of official documents — including letters, telegrams, and official Soviet documents — related to the “sister city” relationship that was established in the late 1980s between Yaroslavl, Russia and Burlington, Vermont, which at the time was led by then-Mayor Bernie Sanders.

The documents showed that Soviet officials hoped to use the budding friendship between the two cities, and presumably Sanders himself, to “reveal American imperialism as the main source of the danger of war.”

In fact, one document from the Soviet Foreign Ministry to officials from Yaroslavl stated, “One of the most useful channels, in practice, for actively carrying out information-propaganda efforts has proved to be sister-city contact.”

Other documents showed that the Soviets were keen to exploit Sanders’ anti-war and anti-capitalism stances for their own propaganda purposes. Older readers will recall that, though there was a warming of the Cold War relationship between America and the U.S.S.R. at that time due to the efforts of then-President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Secretary General Mikhail Gorbachev, the two superpowers were still considered enemies.

Willful media blindness — until now

Interestingly, the Times actually dunked on themselves and the rest of the U.S. media by pointing out that the trove of documents discovered in Yaroslavl has been openly available to the public for decades — but nobody ever came and asked about them until now.

Also of note is the fact that the Sanders campaign did not dispute any of what was found in the Soviet documents, but rather expressed pride in taking part in the sister-city program — the relationship between Yaroslavl and Burlington remains ongoing to this day — while noting that the outreach had been encouraged by President Reagan himself.

However, while Reagan did indeed encourage efforts at diplomacy with a goal toward ripping down the Iron Curtain and ending the Cold War, he likely didn’t intend for Americans to prove useful for Soviet anti-American propaganda purposes.

Unwitting tool or complicit collaborator?

To be sure, the Times noted that Sanders most likely was not the only American being exploited by the Soviets to serve ulterior purposes, according to the documents, and that Sanders may not have even known he was being used as a tool of Soviet propaganda.

That said, the Soviets knew Sanders was a socialist who had a strong affinity for anti-American socialist regimes, and it was made clear in the documents that the Soviets were ready and willing to use that to their advantage by any means available to them.

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